Advantages of Networking
Interest rates have started creeping back up. Statistics show a slight drop in housing starts occurring. Mortgage rates are about to go back up, and prices of some building products have shot through the roof in recent months. There is such a severe shortage of certain building products, such as plywood and steel, that you canít even place an order for them. Plus, new products are being introduced daily that compete with the product line you are carrying.
Do you have a headache yet? If not, youíre in a good position, but the people to whom you are supplying may have these headaches and a bunch of other stress factors as well. The question isówhat are you doing to solve your customers problems? If you are not doing anything, you might soon get a headache when that customer calls you up and says they are going with your competition because it is able to do something extra for them that they just could never seem to figure out on their own how to do.
Consider the situation my friend is in. He owns a small millwork shop and had a decent order come in that will keep him busy for a while. One big problemóhe needs 500 sheets of MDF and canít seem to get this project rolling. My friend is not in a position to carry 500 sheets of MDF, and his normal supplier doesnít have it, so what other option does he have but to shop around and try to get it somewhere else. It is very simple in a small shop; he needs to put food on the table at the end of the day.
If you could solve the above problem with service, donít you think you may just keep a customer, or better yet, win a new customer in the end? No matter what part of the supply chain you are in, knowing people in your industry who can solve a problem for you when the time arises could certainly be a win-win for all involved.
There are plenty of opportunities to get out and network with associates in the industry and develop lines of communication before a business need arises. Yes, they may just be your competitor, but remember that everyone is interested in keeping the industry alive and well. Plus, there are new technologies, new machinery, new products, etc. of which to be aware to keep up to date.
In the near future, you have a chance to see an abundance of machinery, new technologies and new products at the IWF show in Atlanta. If you belong to the Wood Moulding & Millwork Producers Association, the summer meeting takes place in August which is a great place to exchange business ideas with manufacturers facing the same challenges as yourself. In October, the Association of Millwork Distributors presents a great opportunity for distributors and manufacturers to get together.
Itís very simple, how are you going to know what your customer problems are if you are not communicating with them? Get out there and network.
Make it a great day,
Brian Welsh, publisher
P.S. Please stop by and visit us at IWF booth #B324.
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